Eugene Peterson in conversation – 2012 New Life (Colorado) Conference. Pastor Brady Boyd sits down with Eugene Peterson at his home in Montana to discuss his story, The Church and his hopes for the Local church Vimeo recording of the interview here. Downloadable Mp4 and Mp3 recordings can be found here (scroll down to 2012 conference). It feels like a complimentary resource to the excellent, recently published, collection of essay’s, which engage Peterson’s thought on pastoring and church - Pastoral Work: Engagements with the Vision of Eugene Peterson (published Jan. 2014).
See also this brief online (written) 2012 interview with Peterson on the reading and writing life of the Pastor.
This quote, thinking about words and stories we might use to talk about “resurrection”, from this post by Sheila Pritchard: “…"it's a process... life, growth, aging, decay, death and re-cycling…”
And finally, a few excerpts from this post by Maggi Dawn, centred on a Jesus-story that has been very important to me over a good number of years – John 21: 1-13.
“…Peter was done with grieving, done with trying to work out what to do next. The big dream was over--the hope of a Messiah to liberate them politically, the anticipation of a new kingdom, a new order, a new life. Jesus was risen and that meant joy, but it didn't change the fact that life couldn't continue as it had done for the last couple of years. Somehow they had to go back to their old lives and pick up where they'd left off…
… Even going fishing, you see, was never going to be the same again. It wouldn't really matter what Peter did from then on: none of it would ever be a matter of going back to what he did before. Everything would look different, smell different, taste different, because Jesus had walked through Peter's life, just as God had walked past Moses on the mountain top, and Peter had seen the glory of God just as surely as Moses had. Peter could go fishing any time he liked--he would always be a fisherman. What he couldn't do was go backwards.
Recognizing that Easter is 50 days long is important if, somehow, you have arrived at Easter morning and you don't feel overjoyed; don't feel much hope for the future. There are seasons in our lives when Lent is a more comfortable place to be, because it reflects our doubts and our struggles. Even if joy hasn't materialized for you yet, it's still a promise of things to come: a promise that the absence of God has been penetrated with light on the horizon, and the silence of the early morning is not hollow but hopeful, as if heaven is holding its breath, waiting for us to catch sight of it. We may still live with the frustration (like Moses) that all we can see is God's retreating back. But one day we will see face to face. We can never just go back to where we were before…”
And finally, this line from Barry Taylor talking about "darkness" in relation to Easter Saturday and life in general: "..Lately I am learning to let it be and not try and rush to discover a way through it but rather to spend time in that space and let it give me it's treasures, whatever they may be..."
Holy Week brings with is such a rich number of entry points into both the Jesus-story, and equally into our all together human stories; our struggles and our questing for richer, deeper, more whole and holy experiences of becoming more intergrated and authentically and compelling human, reflecting in that journey the humanity of he whom we call the "second Adam".
“What does it mean to preach the gospel today? How do we shape vibrant congregations? How do we preachers not merely survive, but thrive? For nearly a quarter century, Chris Neufeld-Erdman has preached the gospel--sustaining congregational life and emboldening Christian witness in the midst of this turbulence. He's also taught seminarians and mentored working pastors. His theology and practice of preaching is hammered out on the anvil of real life. It's tested. True. Useful. In this book, a veteran pastor meditates on everything from exegesis and sermon preparation to the way preachers might preach after tsunamis, hurricanes, and earthquakes. He reflects on what it means, for example, to host the text in the midst of what feels like a terminal state of war and violence, both abroad and at home, as well as the task of preaching in the midst of the massive anxiety produced by economic uncertainty and political gridlock. Here's a book that will inspire and guide you as a wise, empowered preacher--an ordinary agent of the extraordinary gospel.”
It’s important to note that this is a fully revised, updated, and expanded version of his earlier book, "Countdown to Sunday" (Brazos/Baker: 2007). There is a new chapter, Preaching in a Visual Age, which will be important for preachers and congregations today. As will be the additional sermon example and commentary at the end of the book. The new book also reflects the current political and social setting that can make preaching and the formation of the congregation challenging today.
My review of the earlier edition can be found here (PDF).
I highly recommend the new, fully revised and expanded edition. If you preach it’s a must read!.
A theologian I regularly check in on is Andrew Perriman. He recently put up a post, which explored whether Jesus thought of himself as God. It’s an engagement with the thinking of another theologian Michael Bird.
Here’s an excerpt:
“…I agree that Jesus interpreted his own role in the light of Daniel 7:13-14, and that by so doing he was “placing himself within the orbit of divine sovereignty and claiming a place within the divine regency of God Almighty” (66). But that is not the same as saying that Jesus “knew himself to be God”. The argument of Daniel 7:13-27 is that the Israel that remains faithful to the covenant under intense persecution will be vindicated by God and will be given dominion over the nations. If Jesus identifies himself with that narrative, it is because he believed that the future of God’s people at a time of greater crisis depended on the faithfulness of his followers and their willingness to suffer…”
James K A. Smith’s latest publication out shortly:
“Following his successful Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? leading Christian philosopher James K. A. Smith introduces the philosophical sources behind postliberal theology. Offering a provocative analysis of relativism, Smith provides an introduction to the key voices of pragmatism: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Rorty, and Robert Brandom. Many Christians view relativism as the antithesis of absolute truth and take it to be the antithesis of the gospel. Smith argues that this reaction is a symptom of a deeper theological problem: an inability to honor the contingency and dependence of our creaturehood. Appreciating our created finitude as the condition under which we know (and were made to know) should compel us to appreciate the contingency of our knowledge without sliding into arbitrariness. Saying "It depends" is not the equivalent of saying "It's not true" or "I don't know." It is simply to recognize the conditions of our knowledge as finite, created, social beings. Pragmatism, says Smith, helps us recover a fundamental Christian appreciation of the contingency of creaturehood. This addition to an acclaimed series engages key thinkers in modern philosophy with a view to ministry and addresses the challenge of relativism in a creative, original way. ”
"It Depends": Creation, Contingency, and the Specter of Relativism
Community as Context: Wittgenstein on "Meaning as Use"
Who's Afraid of Contingency? Owning Up to Our Creaturehood with Rorty
Reasons to Believe: Making Faith Explicit after Brandom .
The (Inferential) Nature of Doctrine: Postliberalism as Christian Pragmatism
Epilogue: How to be a Conservative Relativist Index.
"It is often observed that one of the most important and revealing questions you can ask someone identified as a 'thinker' is 'What are you afraid of?' Writing with clarity and great sympathy, Smith helps us see that Christian theologians have betrayed their best insights by being afraid of relativism. He helps us see that the challenge is not relativism itself but rather the epistemological concerns that produced relativism. As is usually the case with Smith's work, this book is both clear and constructive: he not only provides a clear account of the work of Wittgenstein, Rorty, and Brandom but also develops an account of why and how Christians should navigate the contingent character of our lives."
Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Emeritus Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School
“…Walter Brueggemann, one of my favourite Scripture scholars, discovered that the Hebrew Scriptures, in their development, reflect the development of human consciousness. Before we delve into the first half of life, it is helpful to use this model as an overview of the whole of life.
Brueggemann says there are three major segments to the Hebrew Scriptures. The first five books, or the Torah, correspond to the first half of life. The Torah is the period in which the people of Israel were given law, tradition, structure, certitude, order, clarity, authority, safety, and specialness. It would define them and give them their identity and hold them together.
You have to begin with some kind of Torah in normal healthy development. And it sure helps to believe that you are the “chosen people.” That’s what parents are giving their little ones—security, safety, specialness. The possibility of divine election is first mediated and made possible through the loving gaze of your parents and those around you (even neurologically).
The second major section of the Hebrew Scriptures is called The Prophets. This introduces the necessary “stumbling stones” that initiate you into the second half of life. Prophetic thinking is the necessary capacity for healthy self-criticism, the ability to recognize your own dark side, as the prophets did for Israel. Without that, most people (and most of religion) never move beyond tribal thinking, which is the belief that they and their group are the best, and really the “only.” It creates narcissism instead of any possibility of enlightenment.
If the psyche moves in normal sequence, the leaven of self-criticism added to the certainty of your own specialness will allow you to move to the third section of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Wisdom Literature, represented best in many of the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, and the Book of Job. Here you move into the language of mystery and paradox. This is the second half of life. You are strong enough now to hold together contradictions, even in yourself, even in others. And you can do so with compassion, forgiveness, patience, and tolerance. But we don’t move toward the second half until we’ve gone through the other two states. The best sequence, therefore, is order-disorder-synthesis…”
I was struck by this recent post my Maggi Dawn. And as I looked through her lists and on my bookshelves I offered a prayer of thanks for the female theologians that have so enriched my life and journey into a richer and deeper humanity.
Here’s an excerpt from Maggi’s post:
“…As I set out on my PhD studies a few years ago, with my first degree behind me, I began to get calls from publishers asking me to write about women in theology, feminist theology, what is it like to be a woman and a theologian. I took these very flattering letters along to my supervisor, herself a seasoned writer and very fine theologian. "You have a choice," she said. "You can write about women's issues as they relate to theology, and that is a fine thing to do. Or you can just carry on doing theology in your area of interest. But you can't do both."
"Why not?" I asked.
I never forgot her reply: "I've seen so many women start out with such promise," she said. "Then they are asked to write about being a woman, about being a feminist, and all that stuff. They spend so much time on that, their real area of interest is swamped, and then they don't do so well on their first call. Then guess what happens? - Men, behind closed doors, say to one another - 'told you so! Women can't cut it in theology!' So you choose: read Coleridge, or read feminism; do one well, but don't do both of them badly."…”
You’ll find her complete post and very comprehensive lists here.
“Eugene Peterson may be the most influential theological writer in the church today. Yet because most of his career has not been in academia there is not much critical engagement with his work. Here some of the finest scholar-pastors we have describe the way Peterson has inspired and infuriated on the way to (hopefully) more faithful pastorates.”
"For those who knew Eugene Peterson only through his idiomatically rendered Bible, The Message, his memoir, The Pastor, was a revelation. But only a partial one. For the full 360-degree refraction, read Pastoral Work . . . which collects the very lively thoughts of sixteen noted scholar-pastors addressing 'Pastor Pete's' influence on them and their calling."
—David Van Biema, former chief religion writer, Time magazine
"These engagements with Eugene Peterson will be valuable to anyone who cares about pastoral ministry. Like Peterson's own work, they are informed by long obedience and patient reflection, and they are refreshingly free of cant, hype, and prattle."
—John Wilson, editor, Books & Culture
"Here is a book that will deepen, challenge, inform, enrich, and renew ministry in just the same way and to just the same degree as the work of its subject, Eugene Peterson. Peterson's legacy will not finally be in the written word but in the reflective practice of his countless disciples, shaping communities in ways inspired by his words and example. To read this book is to feel encouraged, hopeful, and moved to prayer and service; and relieved to rediscover that one's ministry is not a lone quest but a shared joy."
—Sam Wells, Vicar, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London.
You’ll find a PDF of the Introduction (and Contents page) here.
Today, I want to highlight another theology book (pub. 4th December 2013). This time one edited by Jason Goroncy, a friend teaching out of Dunedin, on my home island.
While I’ve yet to read the book, I’ve been looking forward to its publication as I had the privilege of attending the conference from which the papers (largely) that make up this collection were delivered. It was a really special time, and I’m delighted both to see the papers I particularly valued in a published format, but also to seeing them reach a wider audience. The title of the book was the title of the conference, and the papers focus on the confluence between the arts and theology. I might get a chance to review it in due course, albeit it won’t be a critical review.
The conference also featured a special screening of the outstanding NZ movie The Insatiable Moon that I understand you can find on iTunes. Watch the film and read the book for a multisensory experience!
"Tikkun Olam"—To Mend the World is premised on the conviction that artists and theologians have things to learn from one another, things about the complex interrelationality of life and about a coherence of things given and sustained by God. The ten essays compiled in this volume seek to attend to the lives, burdens, and hopes that characterize human life in a world broken but unforgotten, in travail but moving towards the freedom promised by a faithful Creator. They reflect on whether the world—wounded as it is by war, by hatred, by exploitation, by neglect, by reason, and by human imagination itself—can be healed. Can there be repair? And can art and theology tell the truth of the world's woundedness and still speak of its hope?”
Jason highlights the “Contents” of the book here. He includes a brief section of the Introduction. My notes from the 2011 conference can be found here, here, here, and here.
“…Evangelical Christianity in the United States is currently in a dramatic state of change. Yet amidst this sometimes tumultuous religious environment a rather unique blend of both ancient and contemporary Christian theology has found its way into the hearts and minds of emerging generations of Christians. The Theology of Dallas Willard both describes and conveys the essence of this increasingly popular and perhaps mediating view of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Blending both a prophetic critique with pastoral encouragement, Willard's unique understanding of the reality present within a life lived as a disciple of Jesus in the kingdom of God is attracting both new and traditional Christians to reconsider their faith.”
David Fitch recommends it with these words:
"Gary Black writes a comprehensive and penetrating survey of the thought and context of one of American evangelicalism's most influential reformers. The resulting analysis—The Theology of Dallas Willard—is worth studying and then studying some more, because Dallas Willard is that important to the future of the church in North America."
—David Fitch, author of Prodigal Christianity
For a brief (written) interview with Richard Foster and Dallas Willard on the difference between discipleship and spiritual formationgo here.